Last year, American Atheists filed suit in Bradford County, Fla., to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from the courthouse grounds on a separation of church and state claim, a principle that doesn’t appear in the U.S. Constitution. The parties settled. At the end of the month, American Atheists will be allowed to erect a large, granite bench on the grounds with quotes from fellow unbelievers—Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, among others. The bench will be the first such monument on U.S. government property.
David Silverman, president of the non-profit group, said in a press release that God’s laws don’t belong on government property: “There is no secular purpose for the monument whatsoever and it makes atheists feel like second-class citizens.”
Atheists in America: oppressed minority group.
In 2011, the same group filed suit against the National September 11 Museum & Memorial and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to remove a steel-beam cross from the site or to allow other religious symbols to be displayed alongside it. The monument symbolized faith and hope to many after the terrorist attack.
The atheist monument to unbelief brings to mind Acts 17. After the Jews in Thessalonica and Berea rejected the Apostle Paul for preaching Christ, believers sent him to Athens to await Silas and Timothy. The Holy Spirit moved Paul to preach against the idolatry of the city. Intrigued, some of the Gentile philosophers brought him to the Areopagus.
Paul told the idolaters that he perceived they were very religions, for “I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.” He revealed the name and nature of the God they sought, the One who made the world and everything in it. Unlike their unknown god, the living God doesn’t reign in temples made by hands, but in heaven. God has made Himself known, and we are without excuse, for He “has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us …”
Atheists in America will continue their efforts to eradicate the expression of biblical faith from the public square and erect monuments to unbelief. That’s what rebel sinners do. But we humans are made to worship. If we’re not bowing our knee to the Creator, we’re bowing to the created: idols. For all its effectiveness, the atheist monument might as well read: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
We must continue to follow the Apostle Paul’s example and tell the idol worshippers the name and nature of the God they seek, for there will be an accounting:
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.